"You don't say no to this opportunity."
That's what Laura Rogers, of the Alabama-based duo The Secret Sisters, said about the chance to contribute to the soundtrack of one of the most highly anticipated films of the decade. When soundtrack producer T-Bone Burnett calls, you answer.
"We're good friends with T-Bone Burnett," Rogers explains. "We met him in May 2010 and he loved what we did and he wanted to help us with our debut record… he's been a really good friend and really important to our career, every step."
Of course it helped that the real-life sisters, Laura and Lydia Rogers, were already die-hard fans of Suzanne Collins' three-part series book.
"We were those fans that were staying up all night trying to finish [the books]," Laura gushed. "We love them."
The bluegrass group released a self-titled album back in 2010, produced by Burnett and Dave Cobb, but were suddenly thrust into the spotlight when their track "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder," inspired by the 2011 Alabama tornados, was offered as a free download to fans purchasing their Hunger Games movie tickets in advance. In the months that followed, Laura and Lydia have walked the red carpet of a major Hollywood premiere and been featured on a major compilation album, currently holding court as the No. 1 seller on iTunes.
Though none of the tracks are featured within the film itself, the soundtrack boasts tunes from Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and her Pistol Annies, Kid Cudi, Neko Case, Maroon 5, The Civil Wars and The Decemberists. For the Sisters' contribution, "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder" is a haunting ballad tinged with optimism.
"It's not specific, you know. It just talks about struggling with something and knowing that tomorrow will be better," Laura said. "Tomorrow has hope and optimism and the potential for things to turn around."
Here the sisters talk about the Hunger Games soundtrack, hanging out with Neko Case and their sophomore album scheduled for a fall release.
Were you both on the red carpet at the film's premiere? How was that whole experience?
Laura Rogers: It was pretty amazing. We had walked one red carpet before last year that was a lot smaller and not nearly as crazy, but the red carpet at the Hunger Games premiere was a really big deal. We were kind of like deer in headlights during the whole thing. It was pretty amazing.
What did you guys think of the film?
LR: We both really, really enjoyed it. It was just so good. It seemed like they stayed really true to the books. It was even more dark than the books were in my imagination, but we both really loved it.
So you were fans of the books?
LR: Oh yeah. We were those fans that were staying up all night trying to finish them. We love them.
How did you become involved with the soundtrack?
LR: Actually, we're good friends with T-Bone Burnett who's the producer of the soundtrack. He actually is the executive producer of our first album. He called us up back in November and asked we would be interested in being involved, and of course we said yes. You don't say no to this opportunity.
How long have you known T-Bone?
LR: We've known T-Bone, going on 2 years now. We met him in May 2010 and he loved what we did and he wanted to help us with our debut record and so he was the executive producer and he's been a really good friend and really important to our career every step.
When recording the song, did you realize that none of the songs on the soundtrack are actually featured in the film?
LR: No, we didn't realize that. I think that when we did get asked to supply a song for the soundtrack, we didn't assume our song would be featured in a film. I mean, of course we were honored to be apart of any movie in any way just because of the exposure that that can get you, but when we signed on for it I don't either of us really realized how big this would become. And not being in the movie isn't that big of a deal to us because it's just kind of like the soundtrack is already getting so much exposure, even not being in the film. So you know, it's really completely fine with us. There's so many huge amazing artists on the soundtrack that I don't know how they would ever choose which songs went in the movie, so it's a probably a good thing that none of them did.
Did you meet with any of the other soundtrack artists?
LR: We got hang out with Neko Case for a little while. She's a friend of ours from about a year ago, we got to do a quick little tour with her. We didn't talk to the Pistol Annies and I mean, I think we were just so awestruck by everything. It was all really new to us. We still don't know how to approach other artists, you know, just to be completely honest. We don't know if it's acceptable to walk up to somebody and just be like I'm a Secret Sister and I know who you are and I like you. We haven't really figured that out yet. But we did Pistol Annies' song and it sounded absolutely amazing. Of course we love any kind of harmony and their three-part harmony is great. So it sounded good.
Tell me about your song.
LR: The song is a really hopeful, optimistic song that talks about coming through a really dark, difficult time and it's not specific, you know, it just talks about struggling with something and knowing that tomorrow will be better and tomorrow has hope and optimism and the potential for things to turn around. The song was actually inspired by, there were a series of really terrible tornadoes that came through the south last April and they did a lot of damage, particularly in Alabama. That was really tough on a couple of Alabama girls, to see so many people in our home state suffering from what those storms had caused and so the song was inspired by those circumstances and just the heavy emotions of watching people who had lost their homes and their family members. So we had started this song because of that event in history, but what ended up happening is, you know, we got the invitation to write a song for The Hunger Gamesand we wrote a couple of things but none of them really seemed to match with the movie and the subject matter of the books as well as "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder," which is the song that we wrote about the tornadoes in Alabama. It's kind of funny how it all kind of matched up nicely. The Hunger Games books are so dark, but there's still some like undertone of optimism and hope for making it to the next day and seeing what the next day holds and I really feel like the song was meant to be and it found it's way into that movie because of, you know, it's bigger than us. That song is bigger than The Secret Sisters and it just, it found its way up to a platform that it needed to be on and so it worked out.
Will the song be featured on your second album or is it exclusive to The Hunger Games?
LR: We haven't really discussed it too thoroughly yet, but I kind of do feel like it will be on there just because we're probably going to be working with T-Bone Burnett on our second record. For him to have already worked on that song and for it to have been kind of a real shining moment in our career so far, we kind of would like to put it on there I think. But we haven't started recording anything, any of our songs for the new record yet. So we'll just have to see what happens.
What is the status on your next record?
LR: We are probably about 75% of the way done. We are writing this record entirely, from start to finish, and that's very different from our first record. Our first record we didn't write any of the songs on there, only a couple of them were originals. So this record is really different because we're writing it and telling our own stories and trying to figure out what it means to really be songwriters. We're close to being done, we're out in Los Angeles right now writing with a really well known songwriter [Dan Wilson] and we're excited about working with him on some things and we're just really happy with it. It's been a fun learning experience and we can't wait to get the songs out there for everybody.
Are you on track for a fall release?
LR: We are hoping so. Once we finish up the last few songs for the record we'll go in and record hopefully in like, April or May, and then try to get it out sometime this fall.
If you were in a real life Hunger Games and you could bring one tool, what would you bring?
LR: Oh my, that is really hard. Can a tool be a person? I would bring my sister.
Lydia: I would not be helpful. So that's a bad choice.